Today’s featured member profile comes from postgrad committee member Josie Reade who does a fabulous job showcasing your thesis snapshots (if you haven’t completed yours yet, you can jump on the bandwagon here). Take it away Josie!
Member: Josie Reade
- What are you researching?
My research explores the relations between women’s bodies and social media, with a particular focus on the digitally mediated fitspo phenomenon. Fitspo – short for fitspiration, a hybrid of the words fit and inspiration – typically refers to images, videos and motivational mantras that people post to social media with the purpose of inspiring themselves and others to live a ‘fit’ and ‘healthy’ life. On the highly visual social media platform, Instagram, fitspo has been used as a hashtag over 50 million times to signpost images and videos of fit bodies, stylish activewear and exercise equipment, ‘inspirational’ mantras such as ‘strong is the new skinny’ and‘you can have results of excuses, not both’, and ‘clean’ meals such as acai bowls, green smoothies and zucchini noodles. Through conducting a digital ethnography which includes participant observation, interviews and document analysis, my research hopes to open up new ways of thinking about fitspo and contribute to an emerging body of work that pushes beyond media-effects arguments and research methodologies preoccupied with human representations.
- What drew you to this topic?
Images of ‘fit’ bodies on social media first caught my attention at the beginning of my honours year in 2014. At this time fitspo began to gain real traction as a hashtag on social media platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. As a keen social media user with an interest in the sociology of the body, I began to question why my best friend – who is a personal trainer – wasn’t reading these images with the same critical lens that I was. In my honours research, I therefore set about examining the representations of women’s bodies in these images through conducting a content analysis. See my peer-reviewed journal article for the results of my honours research: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/iatl/reinvention/issues/volume9issue1/reade While this research was indeed a valuable entry point, it left me curious about how the women captured in and viewing these images experienced their bodies and gender, and how fitspo manifested in their everyday lives. Hence the PhD!
- What have been the highlights of your RhD journey?
My confirmation! It was in March 2017 and was probably the best day of my candidature so far. Having the opportunity to share my emerging ideas with my colleagues, friends and family was great.
- What do you wish you had known before you started?
That everything will take much longer than expected. My confirmation got rescheduled four times due to unrealistic deadlines and unexpected bouts of tonsillitis and I waited over 6 months for ethics approval (not due to issues with my application, but administrative delays!).
- What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting postgraduate study?
Make time for yourself and go on holidays throughout the PhD, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
- What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?
When I’m not working on my research, most of my time is spent with my family, friends and partner. I love travelling and this year I was fortunate enough to go to New Zealand, the UK and China. I am also a casual research assistant on the Life Patterns research project and occasionally get some tutoring work in breadth subjects offered by the Youth Research Centre.
Thanks Josie! If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org